It has been a while since I did a meat bird update! The chickens are growing so big, and they are drinking so much water because of the hot humid weather we have been having! Maybe I can write a post about them later 🙂 First I want to talk about the chickens that had lost their leg mobility. Remember them?
There were four, but now only one is left- two died and two got out. The one died at the time of my last blog post; the two escaped to the rest of the flock when Dad and I moved the chicken’s shed (afterwards I found one of them and separated it because it was having a hard time getting to the water). So for a while I had two separated out, until one slipped away during the night from heart issues.
Are you confused yet?
The point is that I had two chickens that had leg problems. One Sunday after church, my uncle (who raises many meat birds each year) and I were talking about them. He had a chicken with bad legs and he mentioned making a chicken sling. So after our conversation I thought that maybe I should try sewing one…
These are the first two harnesses I made. The chickens definitely were much happier to be off the ground 🙂 After I put the chickens in, I had to make a few sewing adjustments, but otherwise they fit quite well. (The one on the right is the one that died; I noticed it going downhill even before I made its harness.) The one on the left is doing very well; so well that I had to make a larger harness! I thought that maybe I should give you all a tutorial about it, in case anyone else needs to make one 🙂
First, find some sturdy fabric. A stretchier piece is good for the base part, and a very sturdy piece is best for the straps. Now, you need to make this sling with the size of your chicken in mind. I made a large one, because I knew my chicken would be growing bigger. I also wanted to make it to last because I want to be able to re-use it next year!
The straps are going to be bearing the chicken’s weight, so you want them to be wide so that they spread the weight out evenly. My bird is a meat bird, so, like I said, it’s going to grow! I made the straps three and one-half inches wide, but I could definitely have gone to four inches. Cut on the straight of grain so that the straps are more stable.
Cut four straps. Mine were very long, but I don’t think that the length really matters!
Sew right sides together,
and then turn inside out; iron smooth and set aside.
I found it helpful to draw on the base fabric before cutting it. It helps you get an idea of the size your chicken needs 😉
Pin it together, cut it out,
fold it in half, and straighten the edges.
Make a rough drawing of the holes for the legs, a cut out to ease the flow of chicken excrement, and draw in where you want to sew the straps. The leg holes you want to make a bit larger then your chicken’s legs. You might also want to have an idea of how far apart the chicken’s legs are.
Cut out the leg holes and the triangle cut-out.
Note: Since I made this sling, I have been thinking that maybe the leg holes shouldn’t be so far back. Play around with it though!
Make little marks on the inside of the fabric where you want the straps to be sewn on.
Now sew the base together, leaving a space to turn it right side out.
Sew around the leg holes. I did a very sloppy job of this; I was trying to do it fast so that I could get the sling made to take out in the morning 🙂 On my first slings I did a zig-zag stitch around the leg holes, which has a bit more give in it.
Sew the space shut 🙂
Pin your straps onto the base. You might have to play around with these until you get them to the spot where you think they will give the most support. I pinned my straps on at the marks I made earlier.
Note: Now looking at how my chicken sits in this sling, I’m wondering if the front straps should come out to the sides and over the wings instead of out and up the chest. I think that is how I will make the next one!
Sew the straps securely to the base.
Use a safety pin to pin the other end of the strap to your metal ring. My straps were very long, so I pinned quite a bit of fabric under.
Hang the sling away from you to see how it looks. Make any adjustments.
Sew the straps onto the ring.
Sew up by the ring and further down by the safety pin.
My chicken seems to be very happy. The sling was a little large for her, but now she has grown into it. 🙂
I hung the sling from two 2×4 boards that I had screwed into the wall earlier. Then I looped a couple bungee cords through the ring, and over the boards. I keep having to adjust it (that’s why there are all the bungee cords!) because of the weight.
This little girl is much happier now 🙂 I was very surprised the other morning when I went out to the coop to see that she had gotten out of the sling and was resting nicely on the floor! Her legs are much stronger now!
Here is a list of materials I used.
A sewing machine and thread
Pins and safety pins
A metal ring (I found a set of them in the jewelry department at Hobby Lobby for around $2.00)
Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!